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What does 'historic' mean in Lower Merion?

What does 'historic' mean in Lower Merion?

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Published by: thereadingshelf on May 23, 2008
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06/16/2009

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What does 'historic' mean in Lower Merion?By:Carla J. Zambelli11/17/2006 There is yet another small neighborhood joining the ranks of "at risk"neighborhoods in Lower Merion Township. This time it is the small neighborhoodbehind the Old Guard House Inn, in the village of Gladwyne.This neighborhood is part of the Gladwyne Historic District, and the house withthe latest future hanging in the balance is 254 Righters Mill Road.Welcome to our latest installment of "The Twilight Zone".The house in question is a Class 1 historic structure with an inventory indexnumber in Lower Merion Township's database of "GL259" . This house has a historicdesignation, and is in a certified historic district listed on the NationalRegister of Historic Places, so why is it at risk? It is at risk, because the newproperty owner wishes to develop it.This is a house that should and can be preserved. It isn't a tear down. It shouldnot be replaced with a new litter of McMansions or Garage Mahals, nor should it besuper-sized into something that will no longer be, or resemble anything remotelyhistoric.This house is a Victorian gem with a wide front porch that hazy summer days andcool fall evenings are made for, and it was built in 1880. This house iswonderful.The home's original owner was Eugene Winter. The Stirk family which sold it a fewmonths ago to the current owner are direct descendants. Until recently, this househas stayed, amazingly enough, in the same family from generation to generation. Ihave also discovered that Stirk and Winter are among the older Gladwyne surnames,and when the house was built, the town was "Merion Square". The town was notcalled "Gladwyne" until around 1890.In its recent history, 254 Righters Mill Road has been a house containing threeapartments. A friend of mine lived for many years in the first floor apartment,and having been inside this property, why couldn't it be restored to its originalsingle family glory? Why build a faux Victorian McMansion, or a field ofMcMansions when it is possible to restore the real deal?Unlike what my own Haverford neighborhood is experiencing, this is not a "byright" development which is being proposed. To the contrary, 254 Righters MillRoad is a historic house in a historic district. Those salient facts should be thebeginning and the end of this conversation, but apparently it is not, and thishouse is currently starring in front of the Zoning Hearing Board.Now we all get to wait and see how good a Class 1 Historic Designation is, and

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